Love Axe and Sidewalk Driver

Love Axe

Love Axe “South Dakota”

L.A. based band led by Chris Hatfield (not the astronaut) and assisted by band mates Joelle Barrios (bass), Erik Cline (guitar) and Mike Ambs (drums). They do a great job with the opener “Baby To Bed,” a striking ear worm that’s all about finishing what you start, and burying the hatchet. “Only Gonna Tear You Apart” is another engaging gem that’s part Fountains of Wayne, part Sloan.

The band stays on an even keel, “Such a Waste of a Good Thing” has a little more fuzz guitar and “Please” mines acoustic folk as a change of pace. The epic 7 minute “All That’s Gold Will Turn To Black (Part 2)” lingers a bit too long, but the band rights the ship on the solid roots rocker “Irresponsible” and then “Daughter Of A Diplomat” and “Microwave” are consistently great. Many songs just stick your head for days – Highly Recommended.
power pop

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Los Breakdowns

Sidewalk Driver “My Face”

A mixed group of players led by Tad McKitterick’s vocals and Jared Egan’s lead guitar deliver many flavors of rock and roll. Do you like classic guitar led melodic rock? Then go for “Kidnapped” or “Everybody Loves My Face” with its major chord riffs and wild guitar breaks. Or maybe you prefer a more new wave rock  try “Call My Name,” which is closer to Guns N’ Roses meets Patty Smyth.

You can’t discount guitarist Kate Murdoch’s additional vocal which makes each song she sings on stand out just enough. Or if you’re looking for a Glam strutting intro theme, “Five Steps” is a perfectly catchy gem. Following that is the danceable rhythm of “Because I Want You.” The charm starts to wear a bit on the five minute drama of a “Rock Star” who’s brokenhearted, but overall its an impressive album. Give it a try.
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Singles: Jared Lekites, The Davenports and Timmy Sean

Jared Lekites

Jared Lekites “Five Separate Lives/And It’s Over”

I may rethink my policy of no single reviews when I hear something this good. Jared has produced a single so catchy I can loop it my player and not get tired of it. Not much to say except I hope an album follows this gem of a single. The B-side “And It’s Over” has a little Jeff Lynne in its DNA, with its casual strum over a repeated muti-tracked chorus. Get it at Bandcamp only.


The Davenports

The Davenports “Leanne”

A new single a month is the strategy from The Davenports. We are on month three and Scott Klass is a master of the guitar hook and proves it once again with “Leanne.” The band also has a free EP out there, a reworking of “Five Steps” from the A&E show Intervention, and a new track “Away From Me.” Its like Chinese water torture getting a song a month, but I’ll take it… Only on Bandcamp.

The Davenports

Timmy Sean “Gimme Everything”

Timmy Sean has a better idea: a single each week. You get immediate gratification from the talented musician. And stylistically he’s all over the place, but I like this very Lenny Kravitz-like rocker “Gimme Everything.” You do get a series of covers and some live tracks – so if you want originals you can pick and choose. Other gems I liked are “Everything I Want” and “One Dimensional Man.” Get all of them over at Bandcamp.

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The Figgs and The Zags

The Figgs

The Figgs “Other Planes of Here”

It’s hard to come up with another band that’s been playing great music for over twenty years with consistency like The Figgs. After 2013’s career-spanning Anthology, the trio of Mike Gent, Pete Donnelly and Pete Hayes move forward. And like an expensive Cabernet, these guys get better with age.

Donnelly is a perfect example of a music machine, between his own solo work, NRBQ and The Figgs he’s like the Energizer bunny and it’s perfectly illustrated on “Late Nights and Early Flights” where a catchy melody drifts off into an echoing chaotic piano coda. “Wealthy Women” is more standard barroom rock and roll that fits right in with The Rolling Stones or The Satisfactors. The thick wah-wah and funky bass leads into the excellent “Oh My.” However this short album (8 tracks) starts to mellow out after “In A Small Hospital” jams away. No matter what, I’ll always be psyched to listen to The Figgs.
power pop

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The Zags

The Zags “The Zags”

Last years excellent EPs give way to a full album for this retro influenced Portland band. The Zags approach relies on David Ricardo’s distinct vocal and it carries things on “Play It Loud” and “Still Life.” The retro feel is toned down a bit as The Zags find their own style here.

“Frozen Toes” is a memorable, prog influenced song and keyboardist Rachel Broach carries “Not Your Meant-to-be” really well. The Zags make each track compelling listening, standouts being “Waves,” “Get Smart” and the psychedelic end track “Secret Staircase.” Highly Recommended.
power pop

Bandcamp only

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Steve Baskin and Evil Arrows

Steve Baskin

Steve Baskin “Dead Rock Star”

Atlanta-based veteran singer/songwriter Steve Baskin (The Cindy Wilson Band, The Hippycrickets, HugoAgogo) has a new solo LP. His unique mix of southern fried power pop reminds me of Matthew Sweet, John Mayer, and Brad Brooks.

It’s got a big bass guitar sound on the opener “Kissed Me Forever,” similar to Joe Walsh and it makes a great impression. “Single Thing About You (Cinchilla)” is another great song with a steady riff under each verse and a killer guitar solo. He shifts gears on “I’m Down” to the lovelorn singer songwriter, but we go back to rock on the dynamic title track. He’s a skilled balladeer on “Nobody Died Today” and bluegrass picker on “If I Died Today (I’d Still Be Young).” He even does a countrified cover of “Killer Queen.” Together its a pretty varied mix of styles that somehow works. Overall a superb showcase for his talent.
power pop

Amazon

Evil Arrows

Evil Arrows “5” EP

Bryan Scary continues his series of EPs as leader of The Evil Arrows. Like the other EPs in the collection its got Bryan’s unique musical style and pop flair. “Dance With Me Louie,” has a little boogie in its beat and the slow build of “Lordy Boxcar” to an echo filled chorus make them standouts here.

But unlike the past 4 EPs, there isn’t a big obvious rocker single. Bryan plays it more subtle here, and another treat is the low-key piano goodie “Sunday Mope.” It’s a sing-songy chorus that doesn’t leave your head. So if you’ve got the other EPs, this makes a fine addition. I recommended Evil Arrow virgins to start with EP 1.

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Freebie Saturdays: Emerging Artists

This is a little like speed speed dating for the musician and the listener. I get a TON of e-mails from bands, many not suitable for review or even consideration. Then I get the stuff that almost makes it. Maybe I only liked one or two songs, but these artists deserve an outlet once in a while. These artists offer their music as an Bandcamp download for FREE, and who knows you may like a lot of them more than I did.

Quarterbacks
New Paltz kids playing smelly old basement DIY punk pop backed by guitar and a single snare drum. It’s got some charm to it, and songs are under 2 minutes each!


Andy Ketch
Rough as hell Chicago guitarist with a melodic gift, plays both folk and rock.


Daveit Ferris
Irish Musician with a heavy alternative style of power pop offers up a pretty good EP. RIYL: Weezer, Green Day


Slow Buildings
Slow Buildings is the outlet for the songwriting skills of New Jersey singer Jason Legacy. Pretty cool melodic rock – a little like old school Joe Jackson in spots. Just listen to it.

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